Wordy phrases

If you want to make your writing more concise, watch out for the wordy phrases listed below. Each usually bears replacement with a shorter alternative. This list is new and obviously far from complete, so please comment if you have any to add.

A

As of late: lately.

As perjust per.

B

Basis (e.g., on a daily basis, on a regular basis)just daily, regularly, etc.

(In) between: Between often works in place of in between.

C

D

Do damage to: just damage.

Do harm to: just harm.

During the course of: wordy for during.

E

F

First and foremost: One or the other usually would suffice.

For the duration of: wordy for duringthroughfor, or throughout.

For the purpose(s) ofwordy for to or for.

G

H

I

In excess ofmore thanover, or exceeding.

(To be) in need of: need or a one-word synonym.

In order to: often bears replacement with to.

In terms ofoften wordy for in or for.

In the affirmative: just yes. 

In the course of: Try duringinover, or while. But it’s not wordy when course is meaningful.

In the midst of: Try amid, amidst, among, during, or in.

In the negative: just no.

In the process ofoften can be removed outright.

J

K

L

M

Make an effort: try.

(The) majority of: most.

Manner, e.g. in a prompt mannerin a positive manner: Where possible, replace with a one-word adverb—e.g., in a prompt manner becomes promptlyin a positive manner becomes positively.

(A) myriad of: just myriad.

N

O

Of late: lately.

Off of: When off is a preposition, of adds nothing and could be removed.

Outside of: Of is unnecessary when outside is a preposition.

Overly: The prefix over- is useful. Attach it to the word overly modifies (no hyphen required)—for example, overly aggressive becomes overaggressiveoverly careful becomes overcareful.

P

Point in time: usually replaceable with point or time.

Previous tobefore.

Prior tobefore. 

Q

R

S

Sooner rather than later: There are several equally emphatic but less clunky alternatives, such as very soonas soon as possible, and in the near future. 

T

Take into consideration: consider.

That which: Where that which has no antecedent, it can be shortened to what.

U

V

W

With the exception of: except.

X

Y

Z

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